SPS has a “Tier” system reflecting need, and its impact on the distribution of funds among schools in the district.
- More funds per student are assigned to Tier 1 schools. This helps make up for fewer financial and volunteer resources available in the community.
- Tier 4 schools get significantly less funding per student. Because there are more resources in the wealthier neighborhoods, they can make up some of the difference through fundraising.
Funds per Student, Geographically
Map of 2020-21 elementary school per pupil funding: Reds are more funding per pupil and blues and purples less funding per pupil. As with all school funding things, it’s just a snapshot from one moment in time. This is the per pupil spending excluding SpEd and ELL funding as of adopted budget taken from the far right-hand column on the “big sheet” on pages 16-17 of this file: https://www.seattleschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Sept-30-2020-Board-Budget-Work-Session-10-1-20.pdf
“We have lots of Tier 1 students in Tier 4 schools who don’t get the services they need.”
Funds Spent on Staff per Student
Elementary school funding from 2020-21 adopted budget by funding type: This bar chart shows the trend in money spent on staff to support each student in SPS Elementary Schools. The gray bars show district funds. The blue PTA funds in this chart ONLY reflect money that PTAs/PTOs grant to the district (usually to cover staff positions in wealthier areas). The rest of parent group money (for t-shirts and field trips and harvest festivals and all the rest is NOT reflected here). So this chart is really about adults in the building per student.
At Thornton Creek, the TCPG 2021-22 fundraising goal was to raise $200 per student which is not a significant change in the context of the funding scale between SPS schools. But it can be the difference between having 0.75% of a full time staff salary, usually split among things like librarian, art teacher or interventionist, to increase availability for students. When a specialist isn’t available at school, wealthier families spend on private tutors or private lessons, and kids who don’t have that support are typically left out.